In this country, as in many others, people believe that their jackets possess magical powers. Yes, all you have to do is deposit your jacket (or bag) on a seat in a public place and it becomes yours. All other rights and privileges are off – the jacket simply closes the deal.
Figure 1: 15% of my life
This of course is utter bollox, and it is time we all stood up to it. We all know the stories about the Germans at the summer resort, getting up at 5 am to deposit their towels on the sun-chairs, and getting angry if anybody challenges their dominance. A few days ago, however, I saw the process in action a little closer to home.
Yes, M and me were at Copocobana for Sunday breakfast. We stood in a queue of 10 people while waiting to order, and had our eye on a nice sofa seat, which was empty. We discussed placing M there to “keep” the seat but decided it was unfair, and so continued to stand.
Then some guy way back in the queue dashed out, placed his jacket and bag on the desirable sofa seat and scuttled back to his position in the line.
Now this was just too much to bear, so when M and me had gotten our food, we went directly for the empty sofa, shoved the guy’s bag and jacket in the corner and sat ourselves down.
The room went quite. An unspoken law had been shattered, and now the fate of civilised society was hanging in the balance. The guy gave us a look nasty enough to scorch paint, but we stuck fast to our places. After ten minutes, just before he reached the head of the queue, he came over in a huff and grabbed his jacket and bag.
But I was ready for him. I said, in English, and with a bright smile: “Hey, you can share the table with us, there’s lots of room”. He was slightly thrown off balance but managed to mumble: “I had actually reserved TWO of these seats, and now I’m moving somewhere else. Hmmph!”
So tell me – where it is written that items of clothing can be used to “reserve” places? Is it in the UN convention for human rights? And how does the law actually work? Is there a minimum size the reserving object can be? Must there be one object per reserved place? How long does the “reservation” hold for? If the object slides onto the floor, what happens then?
This might just be a “social convention” but there is no fucking way that I will support a “rule” or “convention” that is downright stupid, and I don’t care how many nasty looks I collect. I have enough real laws and rules to worry about and if I see another bollox “reserve” something that I am in line for, I will seize the object just out of principle, even if I don’t want it.